Are you a bright-eyed millennial who is ready to embrace the work-from-home life and all its perks? Or perhaps you are a seasoned professional who has decided to switch things up a bit and become self-employed.
No matter who you are, working from home can sound very appealing, especially if you’re used to having your micromanaging boss breathing down your back every minute of every day.
Or maybe you’re tired of all the time you lose during your daily commute. Think of what you could be doing with that time: going to the gym? Cooking healthy meals? Socializing?
Whatever your reason, you’ve decided you want to design a home office space. Well, you’re in the right place, because whether you need to design your office on a budget, or you can permit yourself to go all out, this article will help you work through some important questions you should ask yourself.
Do you need a home office?
Before you dive right in and begin an expensive renovation project to make your own home office space, you should first make sure you really need a home office.
Sure, you want to work remotely, or you are setting up a small business. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a home office.
So many people are working remotely these days that if you live in a city, you’re bound to have at least one shared office space nearby. This is a space where remote workers can rent their own desk and have access to basic office equipment, bathrooms and a break room at the least.
Arguably more importantly however, is that these shared spaces allow you to stick to a stricter schedule, and force you to socialize at least minimally throughout the day. A shared office space is especially important for people who are prone to being introverted.
If you work at home all day you may end up driving yourself crazy, and you certainly won’t be more productive in doing so.
Should you have a home office?
This is another very important question to ask if you’re thinking of designing your own home office. To know for sure if you should have a home office, here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you like what you do? If you don’t love your work, do you really want to have it occupy physical space in your home? Every time you pass your home office door, you’ll be reminded of the things you need to do, clients you need to call, etc.
- Can you stick to a proper work schedule? Are you disciplined enough to say “OK, I’m going to work from 9 to 5”, and actually follow through? It doesn’t matter how much you love your work, it’s important to be able to shut off at the end of the work day that you set for yourself. If not, you’ll end up burning out.
- Are you easily distracted? If you are easily distracted, then maybe you shouldn’t have a home office. There are so many things at home that can distract you. You may want to wash the dishes, run a load of laundry, or play with your cats. But you need to treat your home office space the same as you would treat a professional office space.
Where will you put your home office?
Ok, so now you are sure that you need and should have a home office space. The next step is deciding where to put it. If you live in a big home, you might have your choice of spare rooms to choose from. If so, choose one with plenty of natural light and plenty of space.
If you live in a smaller home, however, you may need to consider the living room, or even a large closet. If you don’t use your dining room for eating, you can setup shop right there at the table and enjoy plenty of surface space.
Another thing to consider is outside noise. If you need quiet to work, you may want to forgo natural lighting for plenty of noise insulation and fewer windows. Or if your children like to play in the backyard, maybe choose an office to the front of the house.
Neighbours got a barking dog? Choose a room on the opposite side of your property for your home office.
What kind of surface space do you need?
The best home office desks for you will have an ergonomic design, offer plenty of storage space and have the right amount of surface area for your particular needs. If you need to do lots of drawings or be able to spread papers all around, then you will need a large desktop. You might even want two desks that meet at an angle so you are surrounded by plenty of surface area.
However, if you do all of your work on a computer screen, optimise space and you’ll have more room for file storage and a printer. Or maybe a second screen if needed.
Will you have clients?
If you need a space where clients can come, then you will probably be designing a very different home office space. You’ll need to select tasteful furniture and decoration. You’ll also need to keep the space free of political and religious statements and décor.
You’ll also want to consider having your office near the entrance that your clients will use to enter your house. Otherwise they’ll have to walk past dogs, children and personal effects to reach your office.
Is your chair comfortable?
Do not overlook the chair! Having a comfortable chair will be one of the most important parts of your home office. If your chair isn’t comfortable, you will be in pain and you won’t be able to sit still and focus. You’ll constantly be stretching or having to get up and walk around.
When searching for the right office chair, make sure that it is adjustable in as many ways as possible so you can adjust it uniquely for your body. It is also extremely important to have proper lumbar support. In fact, choosing the right office chair can impact your health in the future.
You’ll also want to consider a chair with mesh fabric, that way your back and legs will be able to breath and you won’t be sweaty all day.
Are you easily distracted?
If you are easily distracted, you should make sure not to put too many decorations in your office. Some things you may want to limit or omit entirely are:
- Mobile phone
You should also set clear boundaries with your family and neighbours; let them know your work schedule, and that during that time they should do their best not to bother you. Basically, you need to figure out what works for you to increase your productivity at home.
Some other things that may seem obvious, but that you need to ask yourself if you need or have include:
- Storage space: A mix of open shelves and closable cupboards is ideal.
- Space for noticeboard/calendar: It will help you with time management if you can write appointments and to-do lists large and where you can see them.
- Is there an electrical outlet nearby? It’s best to not have to use an extension cord, because cluttered surroundings make for a cluttered mind.
- Décor: Don’t forget to add a touch of style to your home office, just don’t add too much if you are easily distracted.
- Colour: Choose the colour of your home office carefully, as it can have an effect on your productivity.
If you’ve decided that working from home is the right choice for you, congratulations! Working from home has some great advantages, most importantly is the increase in autonomy you will have, but you’ll also be able to choose décor that caters to and inspires your personal style and needs.
But before you design your home office space, make sure to ask yourself all of the questions in this article, so you don’t find yourself half-finished and caught unawares.